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  1. #1
    Member wa77ss's Avatar
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    My car only likes to start when its cold

    I got 97 Seville Caddy with a Northstar engine, battery is good, plugs are fresh and wires in good shape. My starter has been replaced in the past year so I doubt its gone bad already.

    The car will start perfectly when its been sat and gotten cold again, but if I run it and let it get to full temp and turn it off and try and turn it on again it will have to crank a few seconds before it starts. It has even backfired twice on me when it did not succesfully start. I'm not sure exactly what popped back smoke came out.....

    My uncle who is a pretty good mechanic thinks that it may be a fuel pump or ignition control module going bad.

    Does anyone seem to have an idea what may cause this?

  2. #2
    Member Mr. Roboto's Avatar
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    Yeah I would start with the fuel system. Get a gauge and check the fuel pressure with the car on and off.
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  3. #3
    Special Member ★ madhatter256's Avatar
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    Possibly bad O2. Had one that wouldn't start back up when the engine was running warm.

  4. #4
    HDCHOPPER's Avatar
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    Yep o2 sensor ,or fuel rail pressure, & check map sensor
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  5. #5
    Member soulfly1448's Avatar
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    My car (Impala) would not start on hot days. Turn over strong but wouldn't fire. Ended up being the PCM going bad. There was a short in it somewhere that was affected by heat. Take it to a shop and have them plug it in to the diagnostic machine.
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  6. #6
    Member nd4spdbh2's Avatar
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    Engine light on? Regardless go to kregan or auto zone and ask them to hook up a code reader to see if your PCM has stored any diagnostic codes. They should do it for free. If there are codes it should give you a good push in the right direction.

    It also could be vapor lock due to fuel lines being routed too close to heated areas?

    I know its common for 01-03 chevy trucks to have hard starting problems due to a pinhole air leak between in the pickup tube between the bottom of the tank and the fuel pump.... its much harder for the pump to pump air so it takes a few sessions of cranking to run the fuel pump enough to suck air up 6 inches or so. But this has never caused backfiring.
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  7. #7
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    Ya thats what got me thinking ,Backfireing is incorrect spark timeing or plain ole flooded..

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  8. #8
    Member wa77ss's Avatar
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    Ya guys I have taken it to a shop to have them try and read the computer but there was no check engine light so they couldn't read anything they said.

    I think the spark plugs were bad recently and I changed them and that seems to have cleared up the backfire. I got a new air filter, fuel filter, pcv valve. Thanks for all your help! I am going to mention the above to my uncle and see what he can do for me!

  9. #9
    Member visbits's Avatar
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    If its just cranking serveral times and back firing that would point to a rich fuel/air condition. Hot/warm engines like a very lean fuel mixture where cold engines need it rich because the cylinder temperature causes the fuel to de-atomize very quickly. Time to start checking sensors!
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  10. #10
    Member Essenar's Avatar
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    Engines need three things to start, regardless of temperature:
    1) Air
    2) Fuel
    3) Power

    Now you're clearly getting power, because the engine cranks but doesn't turn over. During cold temperatures, you're clearly getting air and fuel, but the question is whether you're getting them when the engine is warm.

    You CAN check fuel and air pressure. Head to Autozone with the car hot, keep it warm and ask them to check the fuel pressure. It might be your fuel injectors seizing up when warm. It might also be a bad air sensor during a time of warm temperatures.

    Also check your distributor timing. Being a tick or two off will mean your car starts during some times, and not during others.

  11. #11
    Member with Some Fancy Text Under His Name CompuTamer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Essenar View Post
    Engines need three things to start, regardless of temperature:
    1) Air
    2) Fuel
    3) Power

    Now you're clearly getting power, because the engine cranks but doesn't turn over. During cold temperatures, you're clearly getting air and fuel, but the question is whether you're getting them when the engine is warm.

    You CAN check fuel and air pressure. Head to Autozone with the car hot, keep it warm and ask them to check the fuel pressure. It might be your fuel injectors seizing up when warm. It might also be a bad air sensor during a time of warm temperatures.

    Also check your distributor timing. Being a tick or two off will mean your car starts during some times, and not during others.
    I think you mean "engine turns over but doesn't crank."?

    And i second the distributor timing idea. Had that happen on an old Geo I had (don't get those things... coffin on wheels) every few months, and had to reset the distributor.
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  12. #12
    Member speed bump's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wa77ss View Post
    Ya guys I have taken it to a shop to have them try and read the computer but there was no check engine light so they couldn't read anything they said.

    I think the spark plugs were bad recently and I changed them and that seems to have cleared up the backfire. I got a new air filter, fuel filter, pcv valve. Thanks for all your help! I am going to mention the above to my uncle and see what he can do for me!
    I wouldn't go back to that shop, Northstars have a butt load of sensors and with a decent scanner (you can pick up a Snap-on Mt2550 off of ebay for about $250) you can see everything and generally get a good idea of what isn't working correctly even if it isn't throwing CELs.
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  13. #13
    Member Neuromancer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CompuTamer View Post
    I think you mean "engine turns over but doesn't crank."?

    And i second the distributor timing idea. Had that happen on an old Geo I had (don't get those things... coffin on wheels) every few months, and had to reset the distributor.
    Crank implies external force being applied (IE the starter) Turnover means it is continuing on its own. I believe he had it right

    Air leak sounds plausible to me. Cold weather, things shrink and holes get plugged.
    Last edited by Neuromancer; 11-22-09 at 04:19 PM.
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  14. #14
    Member nd4spdbh2's Avatar
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    question is... when its warm and refuses to start, how do you get it to start again? Do you have to let it cool... or have to crank it with some throttle applied?


    And the above post was right... he can sit there n crank it with out it turning over (running)
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  15. #15
    Member JCLW's Avatar
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    [tangent]
    Usually, at least around here, "turning over" and "cranking" an (automotive) engine generally mean the same thing - turning the key to the start position.

    On a marine diesel "turning over" would generally mean using a bar to rotate the engine by hand in order to make sure all the cylinders were clear before starting.
    [/tangent]

    I don't think Northstar engines were ever made with distributors. I believe that your '97 has a distributorless ignition system with four coil packs (one for every two cylinders - this means that your plugs fire at the start of the intake stroke as well as the start of the power stroke - but it reduces cost because they only need half as many coil packs).
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  16. #16
    @md0Cer's Avatar
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    Just to clarify, the starter does activate and turn over the engine, it is just that the engine doesn't fire up and continue on its own?

    I had a problem with my Maxima where the ignition switch in the steering collumn would only make contact when cold, so when hot I would turn the key and NOTHING would happen. If this is the case, I would look into the ignition switch. It could be a cheap and quick fix.

    If the starter is cranking the engine though, then this is not the switch and I would start looking into ignition, timing, and fuel system components. Also, go to an autozone or a Checker/Schucks/Kragen and have them read the computer for any check engine codes. I believe they all still read codes for free. Even if you don't have a check engine light actively on, some cars store what they call "ghost codes" for minor sensor issues that aren't crucial.

    My first thought was maybe your ignition components, coil packs, plug wires, etc. when hot they might not be functioning well, but if that was the case, you would probably be getting a misfire while driving.

    Next thought is the fuel system. How long since your fuel filter was changed? If it is clogged fuel pressure could be lower than it should be. Try cycling the key between "ON" and "OFF" 5 or 6 times before actually trying to start the car. This primes the fuel pump. If the starting situation gets better, it is a fuel issue, if it makes no difference, it is probably something else.

    Another thing that is often overlooked is the crankshaft and camshaft position sensors. Sometimes if these are starting to go bad the very first sign is difficult starting.
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  17. #17
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  18. #18
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    I say check fuel pressure at the rail. My most similar experience to this was an 03 escape, would start first thing in the morning no problem, after that took a few seconds of cranking the engine before it started.

    also, at least around here turning over and cranking are the same things, while firing is what we hope to happen when cranking or turning over.
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  19. #19
    Member wa77ss's Avatar
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    Ya basically I can get the vehicle to start every time, but when the engine is warm or has been run in the past few hours I will have to crank the engine like for 2-3 seconds longer than it would normally take for a car to turn on. Sometimes it will take 5 seconds or more and when it does that I will give it a break and stop turning the ignition and that is when it has backfired.

  20. #20
    Member vulcanman09's Avatar
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    i had the same problem with my 08 ranger with mazda engine 4 cylinder
    the mechanic updated the engine computer several times
    the cure! it turns out that iridium spark plugs require a very powerful ignition coil to fire them
    so i bought the new CHAMPION COPPER PLUS spark plugs
    problem solved --- runs like a charm now
    the factory plugs have no resistor built into them - so the coil was completely discharging
    and it did not have enough time to spool up another full charge - before being dis-charged again

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